News Climate change Parcels Severe Weather

Rising Seas of Solitude

  • By AMS Staff
  • Sep 29, 2023

9–12 million—The approximate number of people in the United States who could be at risk of isolation because of rising sea levels by the end of the century under a scenario in which global sea levels increase 2 meters. While most studies of rising sea levels focus on inundation, the new research published in Nature Climate Change took a novel approach by examining the risk of U.S. residents being cut off from essential services. Rising seas driven by storms or high tides can completely surround areas or block access to roads and bridges, causing isolation that can be either periodic or permanent. The new study utilized street maps to compare every street in the contiguous United States to existing NOAA maps of predicted sea level rise, and then considered the possible threat of ocean water to neighborhoods’ access to essential facilities, such as fire stations and schools. Along with the staggering number of people potentially affected, the study also revealed that the number of people in the United States at risk from sea level–caused isolation is 30%–90% greater than those at risk from inundation, with the isolation risk often occurring decades before the inundation risk. The authors of the study created a website showing risks of both isolation and inundation throughout the United States under different sea level rise scenarios, which can be found at


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